At the end of this month (Nov 28th), one of our favourite radio shows Ears Have Ears celebrates 4 years of existence.
Ears Have Ears: Unexplored Territories in Sound, presents weekly experimental soundtracks on Sydney’s FBI, with unique performances and unusual mixtapes created specifically for the show by artists whose musical output is exciting, innovative and at times challenging
They have had soundtracks by acts as far flung as: Scanner (UK), Astor (UK), Primitive Motion (Bris), Lucrecia Dalt (Barcelona), Sky Needle (Bris), Joe Talia (Mel), and Thomas William (Syd).They’ve also interviewed the likes of Diamanda Galas, Robin Fox & Atom ™, Nurse With Wound, and Mark Holsler (Negativland) as well as putting on specially curated live performances in Sydney.
The have won two community radio (CBAA) awards for excellence in music programming possibly because of their great taste and unique approach to broadcasting.
Ears Have Ears are Brooke Olsen and Scarlett Di Maio who have each picked 5 tracks/releases from acts who influenced them to start the show.
Throbbing Gristle – D.o.A: The Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle (Industrial Records) 1978
Pioneering British industrial group Throbbing Gristle are considered the creators of industrial music, alongside acts like Cabaret Voltaire. I discovered them when I was studying noise music at Uni and they inspired me to explore experimental music further. All the group members individual side projects have been great too. This release was the first record I ever heard of theirs, I feel a real connection to it. The album artwork is so disturbing, but amazing.
Negativland – Escape From Noise (SST Records) 1987
USA art/music group Negativland have inspired alot of my weird radio making which started out on 2RRR in Ryde, awhile before Scarlett and I formed Ears Have Ears on FBi 94.5 FM. The irreverent, collage band from the Bay Area hosted a weekly radio show ‘Over The Edge’ from 1981 right up until this year (RIP Don Joyce). They often invited callers to ring in and chat whilst they jammed live using samplers, messed with callers voices and pressed all manner of buttons. The theme of ‘doing strange things on radio’ became pretty important to me at that point (and absolutely still is). Late at night, whenever 2RRR would let us, myself and other presenters would link the radio studios together and make live programs from old 78’s, reel to reel machines, mini disk, cassette and skipping cds. I never thought it had anything on ‘Over The Edge’ but the spontaneity and chaos was important then and somehow found it’s way into parts of Ears Have Ears, especially when things go wrong in the studio.
‘Christianity is Stupid’ is one of the few ‘song like’ creations from Negativland and forms part of seminal record Escape from Noise (a recommended entry point into Negativland’s lengthy back catalogue). The track samples and subverts 70’s evangelical film If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? The record features many of Negativland’s most awkward legal moments including the time they were sued by Irish supergroup/ iTunes imposters U2.
Nurse With Wound – Ostranenie 1913 (Third Mind Records) 1983
British musician Steven Stapleton has been active since 1979 and I really enjoy his absurdist and humorous approach to music making as well as how many genres he tackles. I first heard his music very late one night on the radio when I was a teenager and it creeped me out. I knew I had to hear more. I consider him to be one of the acts that first inspired me to explore experimental music. It was an incredible experience when we interviewed him last year.
Daphne Oram – Oramics – Paradigm Discs – 2007
As co-founder and first studio manager of The BBC Radiophonic Workshop (1958 onwards), Oram and her staff propelled sound into exciting new territories, eventually leading of course to one of the finest pieces of TV music ever created: the Dr Who Theme.
‘Oramics’ is a comprehensive collection of Daphne Oram’s work and remains sky high on my long-form listening list and I’d recommend devouring it all in one chunk. Oram’s legendary composition machine (on which much of this record is created) takes centre stage in many of the pieces. For a bit of background, Daphne’s ‘Oramics’ machine was a large rectangular metal frame with a table style surface. It had ten sprocketed 35mm film strips over which the musician drew shapes. The shapes were modulated by light onto photocells to create strange sounds. There are some great images floating around the web including this one.
I love Daphne’s off the wall approach to the world around her, working the sounds of everyday into her ‘composition machine’ and studio creations. Even her cat gets a look in with it’s voice resampled and changed into something way more robotoc! Although this is essentially a ‘singles’ collection, it provides a great deal of perspective into the work of this amazing creator and technician.
Geneva Jacuzzi – Lamaze (Vinyl International) 2010
This LA-based songwriter, musician and visual artist makes synth driven bedroom pop recordings and I just love the retro style of her video art and music videos – she is really fun, I am a sucker for bent pop music. This release features a collection of songs taken from previous unofficial releases, including tracks she performed as Bubonic Plague. The recordings were written, played and produced by Geneva herself using an 8-track cassette tape recorder.
The Caretaker – Selected Memories from the Haunted Ballroom (V/Vm Test Records) 2001
I had a pretty major obsession with the butchered pop of V/Vm and his Test record cohorts in the mid 00’s. When that faded away and James Kirby became a ‘serious’ musician, I was truly blown away by the hauntological, melancholy, isolating sounds of The Caretaker. ‘Selected Memories from the Haunted Ballroom’ is the first Caretaker record I discovered. At the time it was one of the heaviest things I had ever heard. It’s just so damn lonely and messed up which is to be expected because Kirby’s project is based on the ballroom scene from Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining. The Caretaker’s records are to my ears soundtracks to unmade films. Scarlett and I heard alot of that stuff coming through in music we loved when creating Ears Have Ears and decided to run with the theme.
Luigi Rossolo – Die Kunst der Geräusche (Wergo) 2000
This Italian futurist is considered to be one of the first ever noise composers. He was also an experimental instrument builder, creator of noise-generating devices, and author of the manifesto The Art of Noises (1913). His writings and musicial explorations paved the way for noise artists. Apparently he also travelled to Spain to study the occult . He is a very interesting guy. He introduced me to noise music for the first time, which eventually led me to discover acts like Throbbing Gristle.
Severed Heads – The Big Bigot – (Ink Records) 1986
If this list was longer, Scarlett and I would be nodding to Australian luminaries like Rik Rue, Lawrence English, Gail Priest, Jim Denley, SPK and so on. Unfortunately it’s short so I’ve picked this incredible record by Sydney electronic group Severed Heads which was the first record I ever played snippets of on FBi Radio, as guest programmer for The Bridge, FBi’s Sydney music program (catch it weeknights between 8-9pm). ‘The Big Bigot’ features some of Severed Heads noisiest arrangements, with industrial squawks, grainy synthesizers and odd sampling. Bradbury always sounds like a sarcastic Perry Como to me and I really like this era of Severed Heads, before they sounded cleaner.
I was lucky enough to have Tom Ellard as a lecturer at Uni and we got to interview him last year on Ears Have Ears when Medical Records reissued ‘City Slab Horror’ and ‘Since The Accident’ (you know, the one with the song about the eye).
cLOUDEAD – Ten (Big Dada) 2004
I really love this underground experimental hip-hop group from Ohio. Consisting of Doseone (Adam Drucker), Why? (Yoni Wolf) and Odd Nosdam (David Madson), the group only released 2 full lengths, which was a shame because I wish they had continued. They opened up a whole new world of hip-hop to me. Ten is such an imaginative and ambitious record. When Brooke and I first met, this was the first act we realised we had a mutual love for.
David Lynch & Alan R. Splet – Eraserhead Soundtrack (I.R.S. Records) 1982 (and a zillion reissues)
Each week on Ears Have Ears we are honoured to play incredible soundtracks to unmade films. Lynch and Splet created my most favourite pieces of soundtrack ever in Eraserhead and it still stands up 30 plus years later. Five years in the making, the Eraserhead film is known for Jack Nance’s wacky hair, a weird baby chicken thing that won’t stop crying and a lady with puffy cheeks who lives in a radiator. At the heart of the film is a truly incredible piece of soundtrack which utilises industrial sound like air vents, analogue gear of the 70’s (when it was made) and the strange vision of two artists.
You can find more information at FBI.